The Age of Kali: Part 2

April 13, 2011

My post “The Age of Kali” was a very emotional one. It was a post that I spent a long time working on to get it to the point that accurately reflected what I felt. Of course I was curious to get some opinions on it to see how it would stand up. So I had a series of conversations with Sunny, during which he inspired me to write a second post to augment the first. Through Sunny, I discovered a new side of India. A proud one. A nationalist one. One vastly different to that of what my own is. It was the kind of discovery that alters the way you look at the world.

As a traveler you exist in a place for a single point in time. Your impressions are made based on that single point, perhaps augmented by things you have read or heard before traveling. And this is a beautiful thing; your impressions are uninhibited by certain kinds of baggage of biases. But of course, it is also a flawed thing, as this world and the places you visit do not exist in a single point in time, but rather over a much longer course of history. And so the impressions of a traveler are singular ones, ones that lack the benefit of time. They are extremely subjective ones. And that is what “The Age of Kali” is – a subjective post. A subjective post based on the experiences a subjective traveler. And of course a blog, and human existence while we are at it, is a forum for subjectivity; in a way that is its very essence.

But combine the impression of a subjective traveler with the impression of a subjective resident, and suddenly you have a bit more objectivity. And my God, how different an impression that is.

The biggest point of contention in “The Age of Kali” for Sunny is the last sentence, and in particular the word “squandered.” And he is right. While the sentence is not wrong, it is of course not the whole picture. It is perhaps the biggest casualty to my own subjectivity in that post. And so I would like to add another thought, a thought that is far outside the single traveler’s point of view, a thought that is far removed from not just my, but most travelers in India. With as much as India is being squandered, it is still moving forward. It is still making progress. This idea is something that I cannot see. It is something based on time, a luxury I do not have. It is a point of truth I am grateful for, because it allows me to see this country in a different light, a light with a bit more hope, a bit more appreciation. I will be able to look at slums and see not only the trash and squalor, but also the new power lines running above the streets and the TV’s shining through the gaps in the cardboard. And that makes the world of difference. I hope my newfound awareness of my limited conception of time will make me a better traveler, not just here in India, but wherever I go.

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